A day on the other side…
When I tell people that I attended, nay, was actively involved in the set up and execution of a fashion shoot for a glorious high end publication that my partner and I produced, those who don’t know me are singularly impressed, and ask wise questions like did the models eat that day, and what were the clothes like. Those who do know me, tend to have a very different reaction. These vary from my younger brothers knee-slapping hysteria “You? You were involved in a fashion shoot? You who think the height of fashion is wearing clean trainers, and possibly changing your t-shirt… You?” His incredulity is only topped by his hysterical laughter and the tears running down his cheeks. To the slightly less rude “You were?”, with a doubtful raised eyebrow. But fear not, young ones, I tell the truth, and the behind the scenes pictures bear witness. I was there and I was involved, even if it was only to ensure that my photographer had what she needed, and no one lost a R100,000 Armani dress!
For those who have never been on a fashion photo shoot (you know, because I have now, so I can speak from my volumes of experience), the rhythm of the day is as follows. Frantic 30 minute bouts of dashing, grabbing, changing, colouring and dressing, punctuated by what feels like acres of waiting as the lighting, photographer, and models try to capture the right look. This translates into a fair amount of downtime where you have to keep yourself entertained either by getting the make-up artist to assist you in drawing a straight eye-line (I’m sorry Dyllan, I tried and tried, and your exasperated sighs did nothing to help my confidence!), by playing on Facebook/ Instagram/ Twitter (but not to load the pics you just took, because there is a social media lockdown on these shoots), or by helping to pack up the previous ‘look’ into the right designer bags (and in my case secretly plotting how I was going to convince my client to donate at least half of the clothes to my personal wardrobe- did I not qualify as a needy cause, maybe I should put him in touch with my younger brother?). Before you hear the triumphant bellow of “ok that’s the one” from the photographer, and the cycle starts again.
Now on the first day of our client’s shoot we managed to get 5 ‘looks’ (what the pre-shoot me would have called 5 changes of clothes), which is apparently a pretty tall order when each one requires a completely different set of clothes, shoes, hats, make-up, hair and environment. But I think we were lucky as our crew were so professional and not only did we get all the looks we were after, but no one lost the Jimmy Choos and we all took a break for lunch. Which brings me to shoot food.
These are the skinniest of beings, these models (in fact everyone on the shoot is skinny from the stylist to the lighting guys!), and yet while munching my way through another ham sandwich I was chatting to the simply beautiful Jenna Dover, our model for the day. Apparently everything ever served at these things is carbohydrate based. Pizza, sarmies, KFC (ok that was us a few shoots later, because we ran out of time to organise lunch, but still!). These gorgeous girls live on a lettuce leaf and piece of cucumber all week, work out for 28 hours a day, and then arrive at a shoot after being told to look skinny and pale (which they are from the lack of nourishment), and get fed pizza and chicken mayo sarmies which they eat, because they are about to pass out, and they have been starving themselves so that we can drape them in size 6 Stella McCartney. A touch irrational n’est pas?
But I digress. My last point is this. Shoots are not like the movies would have us believe, where the photographer saunters in having had everything set up, taps on a button and walks out, while thumping doof-doof plays on the soundtrack, and to-cool-for-school kiddies lounge about making sarcastic comments. It’s bloody hard work! For everyone involved. The days leading up to the shoots are filled with mood boards, casting calls for the gorgeous bodies, fittings and location scouting. The shoot day is organised chaos, with every look, light and nuance planned, and a constant watch on time as there is so much to accomplish. Once the shoots are done, we do everything in reverse, from cataloguing and returning clothing, accessories and equipment to paying everyone and touching up the pics. I was flabbergasted. It all seemed so effortless PFS (pre-fashion-shoot), and yet the sheer amount of planning that goes into getting the perfect pictures is monumental.
So next time you casually flip past the fashion editorial in your Vogue, or Marie-Claire, spare a thought for the fact that it probably took nigh-on 5 solid weeks of planning, shooting, touching up and arranging to get that effortless shot!